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Saturday, May 25, 2024
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SUNY BDS - Open Letter to President Tripathi

Editor's note: Two protesters delivered this letter to UB President Satish Tripathi on behalf of SUNY Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Thursday afternoon, interrupting the ceremonial reopening of Crosby Hall. We have reprinted it in full here. The headline and formatting were included in the original letter.

To President Satish K. Tripathi: 

Attached you will find a statement signed by hundreds of SUNY community members urging the university system to divest from funds connected with the occupation of Palestinian territory by Israeli forces and war profiteers who benefit from the attacks on Gaza. We deliver this letter to you today in mourning. Thirty thousand of our siblings in Palestine have been killed by Israeli forces in retaliation for the October 7th Hamas attacks, which killed 1,200+ people. The grief and loss the victims’ families have suffered has not been understated. However, the grief, loss, trauma, and horror that is appropriate in response to the murder of 30,000 Gazans, including 12,000+ Gazan children, has not been stated at all by your administration. 

On October 10th, 2023, your office issued a letter, including these lines: 

“We condemn the brazen attack by Hamas, and we hope for the safe release of the more-than 150 hostages. Despite the stark reality that warfare, once initiated, rarely resolves expeditiously, we continue to pray for an end to the bloodshed, and for enduring peace and stability in the region.” 

We do not see you taking action to back up these prayers for peace. Your administration, as well as the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors of SUNY, have expressed support for a plausible genocide as determined by  the International Court of Justice. You have stood by the displacement of 1.2 million Palestinians from their homes, the brutalization and sexual assault of Palestinian men, the bombing and shooting of Palestinian women and children (even those pregnant or newborn), and the decimation of the infrastructure of Gaza. You have not expressed hope that the 2,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons in “administrative detention” without charge or trial be released.

We as students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the SUNY system and the University at Buffalo are appalled by this inaction. We stand alongside the UB chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and reiterate their demands for a public assertion that Palestinian and Muslim students’ lives and safety are equally important to Jewish and Israeli students’ lives and safety; that this assertion is supported through UB committing to divest stocks, funds, partnerships, endowments, and all other monetary instruments from companies engaged in human rights abuses in Palestine and beyond; for full transparency from UB and the UB Foundation on the status of its investments with student oversight; for the university to take a firm stance against the occupation of Palestine, the Israeli Apartheid, and the genocide of the Palestinian people.

Furthermore, we ask that you advocate for peace by imploring the Governor, the SUNY Chancellor, and local government officials to stop funding Israel’s brutal campaign. In New York, the annual $314,695,855 we spend on Israel's weapons could instead fund: 37,410 households with public housing for a year;109,497 children receiving free or low-cost healthcare; 3,435 elementary school teachers; 895,931 households with solar electricity produced for a year; or 8,328 students with their loan debt cancelled. Surely, a university “dedicated to bringing the benefits of our research, scholarship, creative activities and educational excellence to local and global communities in ways that impact and positively change the world” would want our state to prioritize these things over funding the mass murder, injury, detention, and displacement of Palestinian civilians. If you are willing to move forward with working in solidarity with us for peace and justice, we urge you to contact the SJP leaders who have bravely come to you time and time again with the expectation that you will value their concerns, their lives, and their desire for change. We hope to see you at the table soon. 

Sincerely, 

The Members of Buffalo SUNY BDS

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